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ECOWAS leaders agree plan for military action after Niger coup as deadline approaches

ECOWAS leaders met in the Nigerian capital Abuja.
ECOWAS leaders met in the Nigerian capital Abuja. Copyright KOLA SULAIMON/AFP or licensors
Copyright KOLA SULAIMON/AFP or licensors
By AP
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Leaders of the bloc of West African states known as ECOWAS have agreed on a plan for military intervention in Niger unless coup leaders restore civilian rule by Sunday.

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West African military chiefs have agreed on a plan for a possible intervention in Niger as a Sunday deadline approaches for the country's military to restore civilian rule.

The Economic Community of West African States, known as ECOWAS, met in the Nigerian capital Abuja on Friday.

"We are determined to stop it, but ECOWAS is not going to tell the coup plotters when and where we are going to strike," explained Abdel-Fatau Musah, the bloc's Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security. "That is an operational decision that will be taken by the heads of state."

Last Sunday, ECOWAS gave the military junta that toppled elected president Mohamed Bazoum in a July 26 coup, one week to restore him or face the potential use of force. 

Bazoum remains a hostage of the junta.

On Thursday, a delegation of mediators from ECOWAS left the Niger capital Niamey without meeting the coup leader General Abdourahamane Tiani, The former head of the presidential guard in Niger.

There is clearly some support for the coup in the former French colony, but observers say it's not clear just how much. Rallies backing the military takeover have been relatively small.

The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it regrets what it called an "authoritarian repression" being imposed on Niger.

Niger's junta has vowed to respond "immediately" to any foreign intervention and has been holding Bazoum and his family in his official residence in the capital Niamey for nine days.

The military-ruled governments in neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso have said intervention in Niger would be tantamount to a declaration of war against them.

Nigeria, which currently chairs ECOWAS, is taking a hard line against coup plotters after the putsch in Niger, the latest to hit Africa's Sahel region since 2020.

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